I have rarely been delayed when flying out of Tokyo. But on Friday the runways of Haneda airport were closed because of an engine fire on a Korean Air flight. Inside the airport this information was not given out. At first we weren’t given any reason for the flight delays and then there were announcements about runway closures and air traffic control problems, but nothing specific. I assume they think that passengers will panic if they hear about a problem on a plane. Of course, most of the passengers knew anyway, thanks to the wonder that is the Internet.
The delays wasn’t as bad as I feared and at one point I was hopeful that I would make my connection in Frankfurt. But once we got to Frankfurt the plane couldn’t land as that airport was closed due to a storm. We ended up being flown to Leipzig where we refueled and waited to fly back to Frankfurt. Once we got to Frankfurt there was the usual chaos of hundreds of people with missed flights not knowing what they were supposed to do. The staff at the airport were not that good at giving instructions and I ended up queuing in the wrong place for a while.
I did eventually find the right place and queued for my hotel voucher and for information on when my flight was rescheduled. It is not pleasant trying to do this after being on a flight for more than 14 hours. But at least in Europe they sort these things out. If I had been in America I would have been told that the airline was not responsible for the storm. They would have rescheduled my flight, but they would not have sent me to a hotel.
By the time I got to the hotel they also had a large queue of people waiting to check-in. It was midnight, 22 hours after I had left home, when I sat down to eat dinner. It was a rather strange buffet meal with lots of things I couldn’t identify. I was a little disappointed, as the airline had told me I had 30 EUR for dinner, to find out I could only use it on this buffet and couldn’t have a la carte items, room service, or even anything to drink. I was hungry though so I had an odd schnitzel like thing and some rice – hardly anything that should cost 30 EUR.
The hotel room was lovely and I did manage to get five hours sleep before having to get ready to go back to the airport. It is horrible wearing the clothes that you travelled in for a second day, but my suitcase was in transit. The airline paid for taxis to and from the hotel and I got to experience the speed that people drive in Germany. I don’t mind that they drive fast, I would just like them not to use one hand to hold a mobile phone while they are doing it.
In many ways the rest of the trip was uneventful, and I was incredibly glad to arrive in Dublin on Saturday afternoon. Though not overly thrilled that I then had to get to Belfast, but at least the bus ride through the country is beautiful.